Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.
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On Tuesday, President Barack Obama came to Colorado to sign the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act into law. The ceremony at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science provided the president with a test of his campaign promise to govern with transparency.
He failed miserably.
Unfortunately, when he signed the law, the president demonstrated that his oft-repeated campaign rhetoric about "change" - particularly when it comes to the way legislation is enacted - was nothing more than typical political hyperbole.
With Obama, the more he claims things will change, the more they stay the same.
Like 48 percent of Americans, I did not vote for Obama. Additionally, I'm in league with those who realize the law the president signed, as written by congressional Democrats, was never actually intended as an economic stimulus. Rather, it's a smoke screen for dramatically and permanently enlarging the welfare state.
This is no surprise to anyone who understands politics. At the national level, politics is about one thing - power and money. Specifically, politicians derive their power through the control of other people's money.
Since the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt, the federal government has devolved into a massive bureaucracy designed to transfer wealth. The party in power gets to decide from whom the money will be taken and to whom it will be given. That power lies behind every decision within Congress.
Republicans and Democrats are equally guilty as they pass through the revolving door. They dole out billions to those greasing their and their party's campaign accounts in an attempt to maintain power.
So, it is no surprise that the president is moving to enact his party's agenda. Many on the far left of Obama's party have waited nearly 50 years for a northern liberal to retake the presidency, and they want their policies fulfilled before Obama-mania fades.
And, to an extent, that is as it should be.
Elections have consequences. President George W. Bush and the Republicans had their chance for the past eight years and proved - among many sins - incapable of controlling spending.
To watch congressional Republicans and the Republican National Committee hyperventilate and bemoan the trillions currently being thrown about by Obama and the Democrats is to witness the collective personification of hypocrisy.
Perhaps because both parties have been irresponsible for decades, I hoped candidate Obama was being honest when he said he would govern with transparency. That one change - particularly when it came to the bill signed in Denver on Tuesday - would have gone a long way to allowing Americans back into the legislative process.
Very few Americans know the reality of how laws and spending bills come to fruition. Truth be told, it ain't through representative democracy. It's done through raw power vested in a single ranking congressional leader or committee chairperson with control of billions and billions of tax dollars.
What you see on C-Span is fiction. The pillaging takes place behind closed doors - doors that candidate Obama promised to open.
During his campaign for the presidency, Obama promised, "When I'm president, meetings where laws are written will be more open to the public. No more secrecy. That's a commitment I'm going to make to you as president. No more secrecy."
Obama broke that promise. The bill signed in Denver this week was finalized in secret.
The president and congressional Democrats also pledged that Americans would have at least 48 hours to review pending legislation before Congress voted, so that constituents could provide feedback to their congressional representatives.
Obama and congressional Democrats broke that promise, as well. The bill signed in Denver this week was voted on less than 24 hours after being finalized in secret and before any constituent or congressional representative could digest the 1,100 pages.
So what should President Obama have done at the signing ceremony held in our great state?
He should have vetoed the bill with a speech demanding that Congress rework the bill with transparency while at the same time demanding that the hundreds of billions in non-stimulus pork be removed.
That would have been a meaningful change in the way Washington works.
That would have been change we could all believe in.
To reach Rob Douglas, e-mail Rob.Douglas@Comcast.net